Frightened Rabbit seem to be the best kept secret on the live circuit today. If they weren't the Scottish band wouldn't be playing tiny venues in places like Aldershot. With a capacity of around 200 the West End Centre was treated to a show that would have been suitable for a venue 10 times its size.
With three albums under his belt, Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchison has developed a masterful stage presence. Larger than life, but at the same time his humble banter with the crowd was hilarious. Asking what the top three things were to do in the town he uncovered a recommendation for a strip club down the road. "See you there afterwards," he quipped while sipping his beer. "You're only allowed one of these if you're working in a council building," he joked before spilling the can.
Each of the songs were jammed out with extended parts, making the gig feel even more special, as if the band was still trying to perfect them. 'My Backwards Walk' in particular was unrecognisable from its studio incarnation, until Hutchinson's vocals punctuated the rumbling guitars.
Of the new material here from The Winter Of Mixed Drinks, two songs illustrated Frightened Rabbit's newfound love of turning everything up to 11. 'The Wrestle' and 'Skip The Youth' fitted perfectly into the early stretch of the 15-song show. A rousing rendition of 'Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms' closed the main set, but almost immediately Hutchison was back on stage with his electric acoustic in hand.
A tender solo version of 'Poke' followed, and suddenly half-way through Scott unplugged from his amp and said "Sshhhhhhh...". As the room fell silent he carried on playing quietly before leading a hushed sing-along, while leaning into the crowd. Moments like this can make or break a gig; in this case the crowd's genuine surprise made it feel so personal that it was as if Hutchison was playing in your own front room.
The encore closed off with the best of Frightened Rabbit's new songs, 'Living In Colour', and a ragged but triumphant version of 'Keep Yourself Warm'. Despite Scott's occasional vocal slips, this was an almost faultless gig. As the crowds poured out of the venue one audience member summed up the experience perfectly: "We're lucky to have seen them play in a venue that small; they'll never play such an intimate gig again when everyone realises they're that good."